“Interdisciplinary” in Art - a lecture by Serge given at the University of the Arts in Taipei.

The Webster definition of Art: The quality, production, expression or realm
Of what is beautiful OR of more than ordinary significance.

“Interdisciplinary” in Art   by Serge Gubelman (Taipei Oct 2004)

Why Art?
It’s what you HEAR, when you see a flower
and when getting a present, the feeling that you receive
also what you learn from little deaths, from little births
          How do we need it?
We need it mildly all the time.
When we stray from beauty or slide towards what is ordinary, then we need Art more.
There are many places where it naturally occurs,
affected by the “weather” and the sedimentation of cultures.
         How do we extract art?
Art is one step simpler towards the universal pattern,
Like religion, to see it in the raw one must be silent.
        How do we refine it?
We are touched, we become “ARTED”
We want to tell, to share that state… We become artists.
The way we dilute this essence and what with, can make Art either specialized or interdisciplinary.
But here we leave the comparison with other extractable elements
Because art is not chemical only … So, we give up control and let it “bubble”,
and let it play us… we are the instrument!
The artist doesn’t make art, Essence of Art can only be reported, documented… subjectively.
       The essence in art is simple!
How it is told (documented), makes it unique:
It can either be: yelled, whispered, danced, sung
Or followed in the patterns of clouds, the shape of trees, the rhythm of machine.
It can be told with ALL these forms!
The artist chooses a way to pass on the feeling, triggering and stimulating his audience
Keeping their interest in helping them to forget normalcy.
To keep interest… with children, one has to: like them, see them, then take them by the hand,
sometimes rev them up, sometimes lay them down for a nap and just stay by their side:
today we can sing them a song, tomorrow tell them a story, mime them a puppet show accented by facial expressions
Or inspire awe in fighting the dragon and then again we sit in silence.
There are two forms of art (before the obvious subdivisions):
The live performance that is play. The completed… work
The borders between these two are ever changing and surrounded by gray areas
In art, as in politics, the parental model can be applied; in fact, some artists have been very powerful politically:
Either with their rhetoric, like Bob Marley and Fela Kuti or less obviously like Jimi Hendrix,
Andy Goldsworthy, Margaret Bourke White.
The true artist, as the genuine political leader, wants to serve his subjects, his audience.
Rumi, Beethoven, Confucius are still inspiring us to be more ourselves
        The responsibility of the artist as a role model.
Because his or her process is followed by others, the artist must accept the exposure of their true colors,
especially if it can liberate others who resist accepting theirs!
There’s beauty in surrendering to:
Temporary defeat
Unusual appearance
Preference in love
Age, Social status, etc.
      Who is the artist/parent?
How long has she been around the child/audience?
Does she know what is needed to stay connected, and how many languages will be listened to?
Chances are, that if the artist invented herself,
she will have “played” more than one form of expression.
Interdisciplinary is not new: A song, is words and music.
The Chinese opera is: words, music, painted sets, painted bodies, dance, acoustical design, etc.
Film can cover all art forms and can play technology, like a musical instrument!

The Internet incites the artist to learn more forms and to self produce.
The computer can be: a recording studio, a darkroom, a film-editing suite, a frame for screenplays, etc.
The technology that can be used by everyone gives the impression
that anyone can tickle art with a few buttons; prolonged tickle becomes annoying if not painful!
But because this equipment is available, the artist can, and sometimes must, diversify his form.
Interdisciplinary art is coming around, again, because more people go back to the idea of the family doctor
and for that matter, the Chinese doctor who treats the person as a whole.
Specialists like circus acrobats can inspire awe and also remove themselves as humans.
… with the sophistication comes the complication, which can cloud the Essence of Art,
this is where it becomes easier for the artist to indulge on the surface and avoid intimacy.
To me, art without intimacy is like love without intimacy... it’s not love!
I am not interested in what words someone chooses to hide behind,
I want to see him or her through their art.
This kind of nudity is what heals and motivates, audience and artist.
      There has been Art and artists in all walks of life:
Some had to earn their food on the streets at the age of 12, like Charlie Chaplin
Some came from fallen aristocratic families and wrote (great) novels, while flying postal airplanes
like Antoine De Saint Exupery (the little prince)
The deficiencies that we experienced while growing up, often become the springboard to the gift of art.
Artistic expression chooses you, how to embrace it, is yours!
Everyone of course wants and needs a variety of tastes, colors and intensities.
Furthermore we even change taste or grow into something we didn’t like before.
      And through all of this,
we still need to feel the Essence and the reason for the telling!
Because that is, what will engage our emotions, past the filter of our intellect.
In return, the artist is rewarded by our focus, which brings her into a state of transparency,
                                  (a very nice state to visit and to go back to!)

Serge Gubelman

Ms. Vanessa Huang
The Coordinator of The Sixth Taipei Arts Festival
Taipei City Government, Taiwan, R.O.C.